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City Seeking Public Input on Future of Three Downtown Parcels

A community meeting is scheduled Tuesday evening at the West Branch Library to continue mapping out a downtown economic plan for Peabody.

This vacant half acre of land is located at 166 Main St. Credit: File photo
This vacant half acre of land is located at 166 Main St. Credit: File photo
The city's Community Development Department is hosting another public forum this week to discuss the future of Peabody's downtown.

The meeting is Tuesday (6 p.m.) at the West Branch Library. City Planner Blair Haney says the discussion will pick up where the July session left off, discussing existing conditions downtown and some ideas for the future, or as Community Development Director Karen Sawyer put it: "The good, the bad and the ugly."

This time, the city is hoping to get some specific ideas of what sort of uses to promote for three specific properties along Main Street that are either underutilized or vacant.

Haney said those parcels are 78 Main St. (at the corner of Wallis Street next to the library), 166 Main St. (vacant land next to the plaza at 150 Main St.) and 2 Washington St. (the former home of the Pioneer House).

The Music Box occupies one commercial unit on the lower floor of 78 Main St., the other storefront is vacant and there are two floors above with space of storage or offices. The building is for sale.

And down at 166 Main St., that's a half-acre of land owned by Jeffrey Krugman, who once had grand plans to build about 200 condos on the site and a larger parcel behind it. The Holy Ghost Society now owns the larger parcel and may have their own development plans, but nothing has surfaced yet.

Haney said Krugman's land could easily accommodate a new building similar to the one next-door, which is home to the Peabody Bread Co. There are also two apartments above the retail store.

As for the Washington Street property, the sprawling building was home to the Pioneer House for many years. The property, which is in a commercial zone, could house a variety of uses now.

Haney said there will also be a visual preference survey, in which respondents would be asked to rank various photos from around downtown. He said the images would consist of different types of storefronts, styles of building facades, streetscapes, signage and the like.

The intent is to get a better grasp of what the public might like the area to look like in the future. The survey will also be posted on the city's website.

A third and final community meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22.

The ultimate goal is to develop an actionable downtown economic plan with both short-term and long-term goals.
Russ September 24, 2013 at 08:50 AM
Hope the City "invited" the property owners! The properties are privately owned. The City just finished re-writing the zoning ordinance for the entire city, especially that area of downtown. Did they forget something? How about a Burger King, Wendy's or KFC right across from McDonalds! That will be GREAT for traffic
Ashleigh September 26, 2013 at 08:26 AM
Downtown Peabody needs more nice restaurants. Plain and simple. Look at downtown Danvers. What we don't need is more random stores that nobody shops in like the African Variety Store or Little Shop A Laura's or another cell phone store.

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